Politics on the fictitious island was a product of assimilation, colonialism, capitalism and anything that could fit into and between the categories of what made the leaders supreme. That was the democracy smothering us, an emblem of corrupted justice emanating from the laws of the majority that were manipulated at random, without explanation and with the condescending attitude that expected gratitude out of its citizens. There was no dignity – only its carcass serving as a functional mechanism of our imperial rulers. Autonomy had bowed to the abhorrence of indignity, and the citizens were as fictitious as the island beneath their feet. There was not a single map that would mark their bearings.
Cesar’s resonant intonation conquered the night spreading over the continent. The guitar adhered to his intention with the fervour of someone fearing desertion and flaunting the politics of loyalty. It was a ballad unlike the rest. The thematic silence we associated with Cesar became a tenacious cry that rendered victory an emotion beyond any patronising anthem. Unfettered by the banal procedures of educational institutions that promoted the acquiescence of conformity, the campesinos in the narrow land grasped the essence of revolution without the conflagration of fear. The song mingled with the spirit of the murdered revolutionaries in the Estadio Chile, seeking the hands of the workers whose minds sought within and beyond the necessities of work.
This time we were stunned by our irregular silence. It was as if Cesar had rendered us incapable of uttering a word. But the greatest dissonance came from Sebastian. His usual imposing manner, which tended to infuriate me more than anyone else, seemed depleted. His eyes were a shimmer of tears, whilst on his lips writhed the curse of inheritance and the burden of shared memory. He walked past me with swift paces, bestowing a glance back at me before taking the stairs down to his cabin.
I was loath to leave Cesar’s side but, with curiosity rather than concern, followed Sebastian. The door was wide open, and he was staring at the collection of paintings, all bearing his signature. One of his paintings, which I had never noticed before, was a portrait of luminous brown eyes defying specks of sapphire in the distance. An apology welled up in me that was more resilient than my pride. I sat beside Sebastian, and for the first time since the inception of our voyage, appreciated the personality imbued with the undesirable connections of corrupt power, wealth and the memory of a past degeneration which had nothing and everything to do with him. It was the reason he chose to embark on the raft. Sebastian was the only inadvertent recollection that would manacle me to the years when I resigned myself to muted masks.
He had already added me to his precious collection of imagery, whereas my memory had become a putrid lake of subconscious hatred. I could not articulate my thoughts to him, but his hand traced the abrasive tear that scorched my cheek. I had persisted in chaining him to the blunder of his ancestry. He was a minefield I did not seek to understand, but in our different worlds, we faced the ambivalent challenge of rising beyond the hatred stemming from undocumented history.